I love the richness of chicken thigh and the savory depth of shiitake mushroom. Why not combine the umami goodness of both ingredients into a dumpling filling and stuff it in a Chinese steamed bun? I’ve had several renditions of such a steamed chicken bun, and the one that Slanted Door in San Francisco presents is among the best. You can get some from their Out the Door takeout operation at the Ferry Building.
Charles Phan and his crew have crafted a tasty filling that combines Vietnamese and Chinese traditions. There are shallots, fish sauce and oyster sauce. After all, Charles is ethnically Chinese Vietnamese. It is appropriate for his food to reflect that heritage.
Below is my rendition of Slanted Door’s steamed chicken bun filling. It’s really great if you hand-chop the chicken into pieces the size of large peas. For details, see “Hand Chopping and Mincing Meat” in Asian Dumplings, page 158. It’s not as difficult as you may think! You’re only talking a generous 1/3 pound of meat.
As with all of the bao fillings in the Asian Dumplings cookbook, this one can be used in the steamed filled buns recipe (page 95). It’s not as good for baked filled buns recipe.
Chicken and Shiitake Mushroom Bao Filling
The photo at the top is of small steamed buns filled with this chicken and mushroom mixture. The filling itself isn’t very attractive so I didn’t split open the bun. For help on shaping nice buns (yes, I did type that!), see the written instructions for the Closed Satchel shape (page 52) or watch the how-to video.
Makes 1 1/3 cups, enough for 16 medium or 32 small buns
2 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
1/3 cup chopped shallot or red onion
2 large dried shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, reconstituted, and cut into small dice (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped garlic chives or scallion , green part only
1/2 teaspoon plus 1 or 2 pinches of salt
1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce or light (regular) soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons egg white, lightly beaten
6 ounces coarsely ground or hand-chopped boneless, skinless chicken thigh
2 tablespoons cup coarsely chopped cilantro, leafy tops only
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until they start to caramelize. Add the mushroom, sprinkle in 1 or 2 pinches of salt, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from the heat, stir in the garlic chives. Set aside to cool completely.
2. In a larger bowl, combine together the cooled vegetables, chicken, cilantro, and ginger. Stir together, making sure the ingredients have commingled well.
3. In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch and egg white. Beat with a fork to blend well. Pour over the chicken and vegetable mixture, and stir, fold, and mash everything together into a cohesive mixture.
4. Cover the filling with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight, returning it to room temperature before assembling the bao.